By Eliaser Ndeyanale
ON a chilly Saturday morning, 10-year-old Luke Ganeb woke up early and walked the few kilometres from his house in Dolam to Damara bus stop in Katutura, to board a municipal bus that was picking up members of the public, who wanted to make the trip to Heroes’ Acre.
The barefooted boy had come to pay his final respects to fallen struggle icon Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo.
Like other members of the public, Ganeb and his friend Nunu Garoëb arrived at the national shrine at 06h00 last Saturday to bid farewell to the man Ganeb described as his “hero, who liberated our country”, from the yoke of apartheid.
Ganeb was easily noticeable in the sea of well-heeled mourners, where he sombrely stood without shoes, not more than 10 metres from the open grave of Namibia’s internationally acclaimed struggle stalwart.
He squeezed into the proceedings, standing upright with his hands folded in front of him.
Many, if not most of Namibia’s political elite around him, paid him no mind.
Wearing blue Adidas shorts and a grey hoodie, Ganeb, who capitalised on his proximity to the grave, also threw sand into Ya Toivo’s grave.
He later told Confidente, “I threw sand to say goodbye.”
He said that although he had never had a chance to meet Ya Toivo, he had seen several pictures of the first post-independence Minister of Mines and Energy, and have heard about his history from his mother, whom he said is a domestic worker in Klein Windhoek.
“I have never met him, but he inspired me,” said the diminutive boy, who is a Grade 3 learner at Augeikhas Primary School in Katutura.
Asked what he knows about Ya Toivo, he said he had heard about the anti-apartheid stalwart’s famous speech, which he made in the Pretoria Supreme Court in 1967, before he was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on Robben Island.
Ya Toivo famously addressed the court as follows, “We are Namibians, and not South Africans. We do not now, and will not in the future, recognise your right to govern us; to make laws for us, in which we had no say; to treat our country as if it was your property and us as if you are our masters. We have always regarded South Africa as an intruder in our country. This is how we have always felt and this is how we feel now and it is on this basis that we have faced this trial.”
Ganeb said that he had also seen video footage and newspaper articles about Ya Toivo’s incarceration on Robben Island, where he spent 16 years in the same section as Nelson Mandela, to whom he was a personal friend.
“I always wanted to meet him, but when I heard that he has died, his death touched me… my heart ached very much. When I heard everyone was allowed to attend the burial, I told my friend (Garoëb) to go with me, so I can just pay my respects to my humble hero.
“We enjoy our freedom today, because of his sacrifices, and because of those good men and women like him… my mother told me that Ya Toivo fought against an oppressive government,” Ganeb said.
He further described Ya Toivo as a believer in the power of education.
“We honour the example he set throughout his life,” said Ganeb.
Although Garoëb has also heard about Ya Toivo from his mother, he could not remember much about the unshakable hero.
“I heard he was a good man. She told me many things about him, it’s only that I cannot remember
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015